The importance of proper posture and proper body mechanics cannot be understated. In the short term, poor posture and poor body mechanics can lead to nagging aches and subsequent decrease athletic performance, as well as activities of daily living. In the long term, they can lead to earlier onset of arthritis and more chronic types of pain.
Even if you presently do not have significant back pain, you may be doing some damage if you 1) have poor posture, 2) move your body incorrectly and/or 3)are out of shape or overweight. All of these strains can add up until one day a simple activity, such as bending over to pick up a sock, can bring on significant back pain.
When correctly aligned,the back has three curves. It curves forward at the neck, backwards in the chest region, and forward again in the lower back. These curves help distribute pressure evenly throughout the vertebrae and discs.
Body mechanics are the way in which you move your body and back. Good body mechanics include lifting loads close to your body to reduce strain on your back, and maintaining your three natural curves in order to keep your back in balance. Here are a few tips on using proper body mechanics for various activities:
Keys to Proper Lifting
- Stand close to the object to be lifted.
- Spread your feet wide apart to straddle the object.
- Squat, bending your knees and hips, keeping your back in proper alignment.
- Contract your abdominal muscles
- Do not twist your back as you lift. Instead, pivot with your hips and shoulders in line and shift your weight.
Keys to Pushing and Pulling Objects
- Push, don’t pull, whenever possible.
- Stay close to the object.
- Do not lean forward.
- Use both arms and tighten your stomach muscles.
- Never push or pull with a bent back.